2 Corinthians 4:3-6
In the name of Christ, the light that shines in our hearts…
My step-father was a pharmacist’s mate on a Navy ship in the South Pacific. He witnessed first-hand the ravages of war, and patched up the ones he could. He left World War II with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that went undiagnosed till he was in his 70s. If he had any faith in God, he lost it during the war. He lived most of his life in negativity and anger - a cynical dark cloud. He wondered, “If there is a God, why is he out to get me?” Needless to say, he and I had a very rocky relationship.
At the age of 82, he had surgery to replace one of his heart valves. During the surgery, he suffered a stroke and nearly died. It was several days before he was able to speak, but when he did, he exclaimed how happy he was to be alive, how grateful he was to God. He was eager to regain his speech because he wanted to talk to me about God. He knew now that God was looking out for him, that God was taking care of him and of everything else. He was unafraid to die, and unafraid to live. He somehow glowed in the presence of God.
The Greek word, metamorphao, from which "transfiguration" is translated, refers both to outwardly visible transformation, and to that which is invisible to the physical eye, that which is deep inside. In fact, I think they go together. I think that we glow outwardly, when we've been inwardly transformed by a close encounter with God.
I’m sure I glowed as well in that moment, after encountering Arlo in his transfigured state. I’m sure that our later conversations put each of us in the presence of God. Inside each person is that spark of divinity, implanted at our creation in God’s image, and rekindled when God became human and walked among us. Each of us is capable of being a transformative, transfigurative presence for each other, and each of us is capable of recognizing that presence of God in each other. But we must be willing to bare our souls of their protective covering in order to listen to each other’s hearts. When two souls are bared, the magnificence that exists between the two is a divine relationship, God is right there, and it glows.
What have been the important transformations in your life, or ones that you’ve witnessed in others? Is it recovery from addiction and the mending of a life, the healing of a relationship, recovery from physical or mental illness? What about a young person who was just headed in the wrong direction who suddenly turns a corner and rights themselves? Even someone who is suffering with illness, who is finally able to die a peaceful death. All of these experiences are transformative and transfiguring, for those who experience them and for those who witness them. These are places where we’re likely to encounter God, and most likely to let God into our lives. This is where we’re most likely to give God the glory for this transformation, because we realize that it didn’t happen by accident, and that we ourselves didn’t do it alone. We see the face of God shining in the community that supports us, in the professionals who guide us, in our families and friends, and even in ourselves. But while it may be tempting to stay there on the mountain, basking in the glow of Christ’s face, to build dwellings and stay there forever, these are the very moments that we’re called to share. We have to go down the mountain and tell of what we’ve experienced, so that others might bask in that glow as well.
As we enter into Lent, that season when we try to go deeper with God, let’s see if we can learn to notice God’s transformative glow within ourselves, within each other, and in the people we meet in our everyday lives. And let’s be sure to share our mountain-top experiences, so that Christ can glow right here within us, amongst us and between us.